What is Autocross?
- 30-70 second test of driver skill and car handling ability through a cone course (5-8 passes)
- Speeds usually do not exceed 70-85mph
- Locations include parking lots, Airport runways, and real race tracks
- Low cost of entry $35-55
- Low risk of damaging your car
- Minimal wear on your car with the exception of tires
- Must pass basic safety inspection (car has to be in good working order)
- Helmet needed (clubs usually offer loaners for free). SA2010 or newer recommended; some clubs allow M-rated.
- You must work part of the day (picking up cones etc)
- Any car will do, but small cars usually excel (Miata, Lotus, BRZ/FRS etc) see our AUTOCROSS BUILDS PAGE HERE
What to bring to autocross
- Tire Pressure Gauge (LINK) / Tire Inflator / Chalk
- Cameras with mounts
- Car Phone Charger
- Rubber-made tub for your loose items or if it rains.
- Windex or Spray Wax for removing dust to attach camera mounts and clean windshield
- Painter's Tape that contrasts the color of your car
- (Optional) SNELL SA Approved Helmet - Recommend Simpson FR Crusier (LINK)
- (Optional) Torque Wrench - Your wheel's lug nuts must be properly torqued. Don't trust the tire shop! Many clubs require verification at tech inspection.
- Make sure your car is in good working order ex: no leaks or loose parts. Suspension should be tight, brake pedal should be firm, and no bald tires.
- Use blue painters tape to tape off any sections that you would worry about getting hit by cones (ex: if you have a new car/show car etc)
- Use valet key or remove key-chains
- Remove excess items from vehicle. You do not want items rolling around while on the track
- Remove radar detectors
- Bring any specialized tools for your car. ex: Coil-over adjustment wrenches etc
- Remove valve stem caps
- Arrive with at least a half-tank of gas. Some cars can starve for fuel during hard turns when the tank level is lower.
Beginners Guide to Classing - (SCCA RULES)
This will get you in the door and going at a local event. When you start getting more into the sport and your car starts "bending" the rules you'll have to sit down and read the painfully long and confusing rule-book. This is ESPECIALLY true at National events where tech inspection can be brutal.
MY CAR IS STOCK
Go here and find your car! (Its the SCCA websites rule book). You are allowed to run a cat back exhaust and front or rear sway bar.
MY CAR HAS SUSPENSION MODS
Class "STX" is a good place to start if you have wheel width no larger than 245. Example cars would be BRZ/FRS with handling mods and tire changes
Class "STU" has tire width restriction of 275 for RWD and 245 for AWD
MY CAR HAS A CRAP LOAD OF MODS (ENGINE AND SUSPENSION)
SM - Street modified (RWD cars) or SMF - Street Modified Front Wheel Drive - Be warned you can run slicks in this class!
SSM - for 2 seaters from factory
ITS A RACE CAR WITH AN ENGINE SWAP
Likely XP but some classes, like SM and SSM allow for same model maker engine swaps. You will really have to delve into the rule book though.
Nebraska SCCA - A bit more in depth site for classing but not as painful as the manual.
WALK THE TRACK
- Walking the track is critical to knowing the course. You only get 4-8 runs so memorizing the track before hand is important
- Make sure to keep an eye on optional slaloms. Run the course through your head to see if exiting left or right is more beneficial
- Look where you would want to shift into 2nd/3rd.
- Walk it without distractions or turning around. If you need to walk it more than once. If you are in a later heat walk it again during lunch break.
Ride with an experienced driver & Have them ride with you
- Position yourself near the end of the run group when you grid your car.
- Go ride with someone that is experience that can give you a basic rundown
- Let the grid workers know you are a novice and would like an instructor.
How to set your tire pressure
- Set your initial tire pressure (use side panel on car)
- Chalk your tires (see video below)
- Run your first run
- See where your wear marks are
- Adjust tire pressure up if wear marks are on the side wall
- Adjust tire pressure down if you are not wearing on the tread patch
- Heat build up will increase your tire pressure so monitor your readouts after each run and return tire pressure back to optimal point
AT THE STARTING LINE
WHAT TO DO
- No smokey burnouts
- Clean launch, maximize your grip, though do not bog.
- Prepare to shift early into 2nd if there is an immediate slalom. Shifting whilst mid turn could upset the balance of your car.
- At the start, point your car in the direction you need to go. As in if the first turn is to the left don't point your car strait. Get as much angle to the left as possible.
- Start slow - build up your confidence
- Don't compare your times immediately to others. Improve your own driving with feed back from instructors
- Once you build up your confidence don't be afraid to push it! Most locations are very safe and have allowances for wipe-outs.
- Fold mirrors in
- Don't look back if you think you hit a cone
AVERAGE COST TO RUN A FULL SEASON OF AUTOCROSS
- Most regions are 10-15 events with drops, so you dont have to make every event
- Most Street tires should last 2 seasons even aggressive sets like RE71R Bridgestones
- 10 events @ $45 = $450
- 1/2 set of tires: $400
- 1 hour drive each way to location: $20 gas = $200
- Basic Gear: $50
- Alignment: $80
- TOTAL COST: $1,200
Camera setup to impress your friends
MORE TO COME
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